Can a Husband & Wife Filing a Joint Tax Return Both Contribute to a Roth IRA?

Roth IRAs provide couples with the opportunity to save money toward retirement. Provided they meet the specific federal requirements for being allowed to contribute to a Roth, each spouse in a marriage may contribute money toward a Roth IRA in his or her own name. Couples may not both contribute to a single IRA listed with both their names, but rather must maintain their own Roth IRA accounts. Once the couple reaches retirement, they may withdraw the money from their Roth IRA tax-free.

Income Requirements

Roth IRAs require earned, taxable income in the form of wages, salary, tips, bonuses or self-employment income. Married couples filing jointly must have earned taxable income of $169,000 or less to contribute the maximum to a Roth IRA. Your filing status makes a big difference when determining whether you qualify for a Roth IRA. Couples using the married filing separately status but who live together may not contribute to a Roth IRA unless their adjusted gross income is less than $10,000.

Earned Income

In most circumstances, in order to qualify for a Roth IRA you must have earned income in the form of wages, salary, commissions, self-employment income or alimony. This rule does not apply to spouses who file jointly. You may fully contribute to a Roth IRA if you have little to no income if your spouse earns enough taxable income for both of you. You need at least $10,000 earned income for both spouses to fully contribute to each Roth IRA.

Contribution Limits

Standard Roth IRAs have a contribution maximum of $5,000 per tax year per person. Individuals who earn less than $5,000 per tax year, however, can only contribute up to the amount of income they earned for the tax year. The maximum contribution amount is raised to $6,000 if the taxpayer is 50 years of age or older. The maximum amount you may contribute applies to the sum of all your IRA contributions for the year. Suppose you have two IRAs and contribute $3,000 to one of them -- you may contribute a maximum of $2,000 to the other.

Reduced Contributions

Married couples filing jointly with income between $169,000 and $179,000 may make reduced contributions. The IRS provides Publication 590 Individual Retirement Arrangements to taxpayers to determine whether they meet income guidelines and to calculate their exact maximum contribution amount if they exceed the income guidelines.

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About the Author

Leigh Thompson began writing in 2007 and specializes in creating content for websites. She has been published online in various capacities. Thompson has an associate degree in information technology from the University of Kansas and is working on a bachelor's degree in business and personal finance.

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